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Why trust matters in the digital era

Megha Kumar, Senior Research Manager, Software and Enterprise Solutions, IDC Middle East, Turkey and Africa, explores the value of building a culture of confidence throughout the public and private sectors in the era of IoT and Blockchain.

Megha Kumar, IDC META

In 2016, I cannot think of a single technology conversation that did not bring up digital transformation and the era of disruption. We are in an ecosystem where gaining and seeking customers is competitive. Customer loyalties shift easily based on experience and influence.

The digital world is one that is far more open where systems will be far more integrated, there will be a more fluid exchange of information and increased communication amongst devices with minimal human interactions. This openness requires organisations to address aspects such as protection, privacy and trust.

It is important to note that the meaning of data protection and privacy can vary. In some parts of the world, data privacy essentially looks at how the personal information of customers, employees or users are managed. In other parts, privacy and protection are interchangeable.

Organisations will increasingly be held responsible not only for how they protect the data but also for how they use it – especially customer and personnel information. With technologies such as IoT, robotics, wearable and drones; trust will become increasingly complicated, and will be an essential risk that will need to be assessed moving forward.

Clearly, there is a need to secure the way devices engage with each other. Chief among this is the use of public key infrastructure (PKI), which essentially allows for the safe transfer of information. It uses digital credentials to identify users and devices and determine access to data. Each credential or certificate involves a set of cryptographic keys that need to match to assess the user or device. There are many forms of PKI that are currently being used such as encryption, authentication or mobile signatures. PKI has long been used to secure banking transactions and websites.

While there are various ways to address PKI, one concept that has gained significant momentum is Blockchain. Blockchains are interconnected chains or blocks of data. These blocks are created at regular intervals and contain information on which changes have been made to the ledger (i.e. transcation) since the creation of the previous block. By linking each block of data to the next block, a Blockchain becomes an irreversible record of all transactions and changes ever made to the ledger.

Furthermore, blockchains can be either public or private. Public blockchains mean that they are owned by no one, and allow for open access to anyone that wishes to contribute to the network. Private Blockchain will be limited to a certain number of owners who can further limit to those with the necessary permissions. Regardless of whether they are public or private, the linked blocks create a secure, transparent method for record keeping and auditing. They follow a decentralised consensus algorithm.

One of the major use cases of Blockchains has been highlighted within the finance sector, where transactions can take place without the need for third parties. Given the distributed, autonomous and trusted capabilities of blockchains, there are several use cases that can be explored across various industries. These include anti-counterfeiting, securing health records, deploying decentralised IoT networks, secure e-government transactions and audits.

Moving forward, ensuring trust and privacy across all interactions will be critical in a world that will experience more device interaction than ever before. The digital era needs to be a trusted ecosystem that allows for seamless and secure experience for everyone.

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